Alexander Forbes Head Office / Paragon Architects

  • Architect:Paragon Architects
  • Location:Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Date:2012
  • Area:100 000m2 construction area
  • Client:Zenprop Property Holdings
  • Awards:AfriSam SAIA Sustainability Award - 2014


Alexander Forbes Head Office- Description from Paragon Architects.

A brief description of the development

This building replaces the existing head office for Alexander Forbes which was spread over two buildings on the corner of Katherine Street and Rivonia Road. The client needed to consolidate facilities with a better use of space for 2500 people; this involved modernising work operations and upgrading technology services. Considering its status as a renowned financial services company, these needed to be state of the art, with added security.

Courtesy of Paragon Architects

The rationale behind the construction of the Project

The design warranted a flexible building hence the large floor plates, punctuated by two atria to maximise the natural daylight into the office spaces. The north-west orientation of the site also influenced the design with the powerful scallop elements to capture north and south light and protect the occupants from east and west light.

The atria also capture natural light which floods from the top down and from each side into the arrival area. It was designed to create a park like environment with the introduction of 6m high Ficus Benjamina trees, sunken into the floor. A wide variety of natural materials was used including bamboo veneer and wafer thin slate stone to clad the meeting pods.

Courtesy of Paragon Architects


Facilities included in this development

The project is essentially an office building but includes a wide variety of staff facilities including: a crèche, a gym, 6 parking levels, a smoking room ( on basement level 2, separate ventilation was required because of current smoking regulations) prayer rooms, Muslim and Interdenominational; a beauty parlour, health studio, with physio-therapist, 200 seater auditorium, state of the art AV meeting rooms, a multipurpose room; staff training rooms, a fully integrated caterers kitchen and canteen, coffee shop, bar and wine cellar.

Courtesy of Paragon Architects

Special features of the project

This is Paragon’s biggest Green Star project and has been accredited with a 4 star Green Star Design V1 rating. This had a profound impact on the architectural design. Other work style elements that influenced the project included: the efficiency of floor plates and a flexible work environment which allows for ‘churning’ (the ability of a space to adapt to flexible sizes and working conditions). Internal circulation was considered in two further areas, viz. the introduction of escalators (although this cost 1/3 of a Green Star point) to encourage staff moving one floor not to use the lifts; and the splayed bridge links ensure optimum travel distances between the floor plates. Basement level one also allows future conversion from parking to office space.

Courtesy of Paragon Architects

On 8 April 2014, 115 West Street/ Alexander Forbes (Green Star Project 12027-OB)  achieved an overall score of 47 weighted points, which equates to a 4-Star Green Star SA – Office v1 As Built Rating. Two more points were achieved for overall building energy reduction than the design rating, PJC explains:

  1. In general, for Design ratings  conservative assumptions are made with regards to the energy consumption of the various HVAC equipment considered, whereas for the As Built submission there is access to measured consumption which is more accurate (and less conservative).  This has a relatively small impact though.
  2. A bigger impact for this project was the time schedule applied to the basement extraction fans.  In commissioning, the basements fans were connected to timers and controlled to operate at lower levels when less motor vehicle traffic is expected.  This resulted in massive energy savings, which accounted for the majority of the additional savings made in the As Built energy modelling.



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